Second helpings (with a price tag in the millions) are served to some PGF beneficiaries

As we acknowledged yesterday, Point of Order must declare a pecuniary interest in the boost to benefits announced by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.  Some of the team are among the 800,000 people receiving New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension who will enjoy a rate increase by just over 3 per cent.

Should we therefore turn off the Point of Order Trough Monitor?  Perhaps. But not yet.  

At least, not before the Provincial Growth Fund has been exhausted – and probably not even then, because we are confident it will be either replenished or replaced by another trough.

Accordingly we can advise today that the distributors of PGF swill have been busy in recent days, although none of the latest lashings of largess have been directed into Northland.

In some cases, beneficiaries have been served a second helping.

Here’s what the monitor detected:

25 FEBRUARY 2020

PGF funds Mahia roading package

The Provincial Growth Fund is investing $8.3 million on a roading package for Mahia that will lead to greater and wider economic benefits for the region and beyond, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced at an event in Mahia today.

The $8.3 million announced consists of:

  • $7 million for traction sealing and other works to 12.5km of road on the Mahia East Coast Road
  • $1 million to seal a 4km adjoining road on Onenui Station that leads to the Rocket Lab launch site.
  • $300,000 to investigate realigning the 11.3 km Nuhaka-Opoutama Road.

 “These roads are critical to the community, visitors, tourists, farmers, forestry workers, logging trucks, fishing industry, and businesses. Investing in these particular roading projects will give everybody greater confidence in the long-term accessibility of the Mahia Peninsula,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“We know that roads and rail access are vital to a region’s economic growth. The upgrade of the Mahia East Coast road adjoining to the Onenui station road, treated as an integrated project, will make a huge difference including increased visitor flow and business confidence in the region.

“Rocket Lab for example, is a business that has already created $18.2 million in benefits for the region and these roading upgrades will enable them to safely transport equipment as well as allow for further development.

“The $300,000 funding to investigate an alternative route along the coast is also a valuable investment in the region to provide much needed certainty of access to the Mahia Peninsula for visitors and businesses for generations to come.”

The PGF has invested $24 million in the Wairoa area for projects including digital connectivity, CBD re-development, rail, horticulture and a number of employment and training skills projects.

25 FEBRUARY 2020

$19.9 million from PGF for Kawerau

A $19.9 million investment from the Provincial Growth Fund will help develop essential infrastructure for an industrial hub in the Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.

The funding will go to three projects to further develop the Putauaki Trust Industrial Hub, an industrial development which will act as a catalyst for much-needed economic growth the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

The  projects are:

  • Kawerau Container Terminal (KCT Co Limited) – $9.6 million
  • Putauaki Trust roading extension and infrastructure (Putauaki Trust) – $7.5 million
  • Kawerau Off-Highway Road (Sequal Lumber Ltd) – $2.8 million

Putauaki Trust Industrial Hub needs an efficient rail link to transport goods and connect heavy industry in the Bay of Plenty to global markets, Jones said. A reliable road network is also essential for the hub to attract new businesses.

A total of $9.6 million from the PGF is funding the construction of rail siding at the Kawerau Container Terminal to allow for the loading and unloading of containers.  This will take pressure off roads by removing an estimated 40 daily truck trips from local roads and reduce Co2 emissions.

The Putauaki Trust industrial roading extension will connect around 50ha of vacant plots within the Hub to existing roads by adding a turning bay and a roundabout on SH34.

The Kawerau Off-Highway Road will be a new 1.6km stretch direct to the Kawerau Container Terminal. This will be used by large vehicles that cannot use the existing highway.

In 2018, the Putauaki Trust Industrial Hub received $2 million for the first stage of construction.

“The $19.9 million I’m announcing today will create significant employment opportunities and attract further private sector investment. This is an exceptional example of the Government partnering with Māori, local council, businesses and the community to create a landmark change for the future of Kawerau.

“We back communities such as Kawerau by funding projects that will make a difference to the lives of local people for generations to come, while boosting industries vital to New Zealand’s economic success,” Shane Jones said.

The project (he said) is expected to create at least 150 jobs in Kawerau.

25T23:00:44Z”>26 FEBRUARY 2020

Water investment in Raukokore

The remote eastern Bay of Plenty community of Raukokere will receive a Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment of $10.6 million for a water storage facility, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.

The landowner, Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust, will use the investment  – in the form of a loan – to design and build the water storage scheme that will act as a catalyst for under-utilised, under-developed Māori land, Jones said.

“The key focus of this project is to change low productivity land to land that will support high value horticulture.

“The water storage facility will be key to growth in the primary sector industries, leading to increased jobs in the area. The long-neglected eastern Bay of Plenty faces an uphill battle in increasing regional economic growth and the rewards that brings such as higher wages and more job opportunities,” Shane Jones said.

The scheme is intended to help develop 200-300ha of high-value horticultural land, with the capacity to grow to 900ha over time.

A co-operative entity will be established to own and operate the scheme with the water users expected to be shareholders.

Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust previously received a PGF grant of $950,600 for a feasibility study which found there was significant potential in the development of a water storage scheme.

In addition to the $10.6m loan announced today, Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust will receive $894,161 to start a 20ha macadamia orchard. This investment was part of the $30m Whenua Māori investment announced at Waitangi earlier this month.

Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust represents hapū in Raukokere and Waihau Bay.

“Giving Māori landowners a helping hand up is crucial in regions such as these that are isolated and largely populated by Māori. Without the existence of the Provincial Growth Fund there would be very few financial avenues for these landowners,” Jones said.

Access to grants and loans which could not have been gained elsewhere helps these landowners change the future of their whānau, hapū and the wider community, he  said.

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